Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Anna Salvatore
Friday, November 13, 2020, 3:01 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion. 

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The U.S. has topped its daily record for coronavirus cases with more than 160,000 on Thursday, writes the New York Times. The nation also set a record for hospitalizations for the third day in a row, a pattern that isn’t likely to stop as colder weather drives people indoors. Infection rates are particularly dire in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is mulling a stay-at-home order, while both California and Texas have individually recorded a total of more than a million cases.

The Washington Post reports that more than 130 Secret Service officers on the president’s detail either have the coronavirus or are currently quarantining. According to people interviewed for the story, the infections may trace to a series of Trump rallies held before Election Day. With 10 percent of the Secret Service inactive, the Post observes that the remaining officers are even more overworked, and more prone to security breaches, than they are in normal times.

Six days after the Associated Press called the presidential race for Joe Biden, the Chinese government has formally congratulated President-elect Biden for his victory. “We respect the choice of the American people,” Wang Wenbin, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said on Friday in a daily briefing. According to the Financial Times, China is one of the last remaining global powers to acknowledge the results of the presidential election.

A law firm working for the Trump campaign has withdrawn from one case in the campaign’s efforts to challenge the election results in Pennsylvania, reports the Philadelphia Enquirer. The firm, Porter Wright, gave no explanation for abandoning Trump’s campaign to prevent Pennsylvania from certifying its election results. However, the New York Times reported Monday that several lawyers at the firm objected to representing the controversial president.

The Wall Street Journal profiled several school districts that faced aggressive ransomware attacks. The Treasury Department warned last month these attacks have increased during the pandemic. According to a spokeswoman for Armor Defense, a cybersecurity company, “The ransomware has gotten more heinous. To incite you to pay, they say, ‘Hey, we’ve got all [your] data, and we’ll be happy to post [it].’ ” While the Journal reports that there is currently no comprehensive clearinghouse on ransomware attacks, they write that some cybersecurity firms are also noticing more cases targeting schools and colleges.

On the fifth anniversary of the Bataclan terrorist attack in Paris, Deutsche Welle profiled several survivors. Since the November evening in 2015 when gunmen killed 90 concert goers at the Bataclan music hall and held many others hostage, the survivors have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and tried to make sense of the carnage.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Valentin Weber argued that China’s control of information is a cyber weakness for the U.S.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared the latest episode of the National Security Law Podcast called “Make Rule 11 Great Again!” They discussed the recent spate of firings at the Defense Department and the laws governing presidential transitions.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast called “Could Kim Jong Un Kill 90% of All Americans Today?” Baker interviewed Dr. Peter Pry of the EMP Commission – a group thatwhich studies the risk of electromagnetic pulse attacks – about the state of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

Lester Munson shared an episode of the Fault Lines podcast featuring a conversation with Max Bergmann, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, about Bergmann’s new co-authored report: “The First 100 Days: Toward a More Sustainable and Values-Based National Security Approach.”

Matthew Waxman discussed the Constitution’s implications for the U.S. launching cyberattacks against its adversariesenemies.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of The Lawfare Podcast in the Arbiters of Truth disinformation series. Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to Marietje Schaake about Europe moving ahead with tech regulation.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Anna Salvatore is a rising freshman at Princeton University. She previously served as the editor in chief of High School SCOTUS, a legal blog written by teenagers. She is now a fall intern at Lawfare.

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